Bucs head coach Lovie Smith faced a barrage of questions from the Tampa Bay media on Monday with a majority of it regarding the reports of interest in former Dolphins guard Richie Incognito. Smith confirmed there was some interest a meeting would be taking place this evening at One Buc Place. Smith also talked about the final preseason game and about one of his main assistant coaches who went on the injured list himself earlier on Monday.(Opening statement)“I think for most of you guys that watched part of our practice, you probably noticed [offensive coordinator] Jeff Tedford wasn’t here today. Jeff had a medical procedure done this morning, he’s resting comfortably right now, but he’ll be out for a short period of time. We’ll of course keep Jeff in our prayers and all of that, things should be okay. Also I think most of you know that we are bringing in [free agent offensive lineman] Richie Incognito for a visit today. As I’ve said all along, if there’s an available free agent that we need a little bit more information on. We’ll look to them all and we’ll continue to compare them with our current roster that we have. It’s nothing more than a visitor coming in and a part of that process. Beyond that, of course practice-wise, we have been keeping our team moving forward, this is an important week. Today we had a chance to go back and do some training camp-type or have a training camp-type practice, offense versus defense and just get some good work in, good on good. Our starters won’t play a lot this week, so this is always of course a good time to get that in. Injury-wise I don’t have a whole lot to report, guys are getting better and I’ll take your questions.” (On if guys who have been injured will be available to play on Thursday)“Everybody is in play. You asked if they’re still in play; yeah they’re all still in play. As far as how much they’ll play, early on I kind of outlined how we play our guys in the preseason, first game about a quarter, second game into the second quarter, third game into the third quarter for the most part and they won’t play much in the final preseason game, which we are to now.” (On the thought process behind bringing in Incognito)“I think we’re jumping the gun a little bit on [saying we are] bringing in a player. We look at everyone that’s available, and it’s no more than that. We haven’t signed anyone. I think we owe it to ourselves to compare our roster to what’s out there and Richie is a part of that. I think we should just wait and just let the process take care of itself and go from there.” (On what he has to prove in order to be signed)“I don’t think you can just say a few things, it’s a process. It’s just not one thing that you go through, and this is just a part of it. When we were evaluating college prospects, we brought in just about everybody that’s available that we could to have a face to face. I heard what happened down there [in Miami], but for me, I think it doesn’t hurt anything to talk face-to-face with anybody that’s available. I think we should just report on just that. There’s a visit coming right now and let everything else play out.” (On why they are bringing Incognito in now instead of earlier in the offseason)“As part of the process, we had training camp and we’ve had a chance to evaluate our roster that we have right now. We know what’s on our roster, there’s one more week before the regular season starts, we may bring in some other players that we don’t have all of the information on, it’s no more than that. It’s that last week, you look at all available guys before we run out of time as far as looking at players.” (On what he thinks of Incognito as a football player)“As a football player, the last time I saw him play, he was a pretty good football player, that’s why we’re looking at him – we’re looking at him as a football player. Before you sign anyone, you look at the total body. Right now we’re just looking at the football part and putting all of that information together.” (On what he’s looking to learn in this visit that he doesn’t already know)“I’m coming in with an open mind, I don’t know him, that’s why you meet someone. After we meet him, I’ll know everything we need to know about him. You try and cover your bases and get all of the information you can on all available prospects.” (On if he’s read the Wells Report and if he’s aware what’s in it)“No, not in its entirety, no. Guys keep in mind and we’ll go through this again, it’s just a part of the process. I haven’t been worried about the Well’s Report, I’ve been getting our football team ready and then now we had the little break right before the end and we have a prospect that’s available. Now you start looking at everything about him. Until now, Richie Incognito was just a name really. Now that we’re bringing him in, we’ll do a little bit more research on him.” (On what the process entails)“I’m saying there’s a process on all players that are available and all I can tell you about Richie Incognito is he’s coming in for a visit – it’s no more. It’s not step five, six, seven, there’s step one, him coming in for a visit, so I can answer all of those questions. He’s coming in this evening; beyond that, it’s not a whole lot of information I can give you. That’s what we’re having this visit for.” (On if this visit means he’s not happy with the play of the offensive line)“What have I been saying? You can listen to me, go back and check, we’re pleased with what we’ve been doing, but we look at all available guys, period. What does it hurt to look at someone that’s available? I think it will be tough for a football team to do that, before we bring in any player, everyone has to be on board with it. Slow down a little bit.” (On if general manager Jason Licht and Incognito have met previously)“They both played at Nebraska, we have a lot of guys though – [head strength and conditioning coach] Dave Kennedy, [assistant strength and conditioning coach] Chad Wade – we have a lot of guys from Nebraska that have a history with him, but no, no more than anything else.” (On the time frame of Tedford’s recovery)“He had a procedure done this morning and beyond that, that’s all I know. I know he’s resting comfortably right now, that’s about all we have right now. We’ll be able to give you more information a little bit later on, but that’s about all we have right now.” (On if there is a backup plan to call plays if offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is still absent for Week 1)“Our offensive staff will come together and do that. This is how this thing goes. We have a coordinator, yes. From there, there’s always a backup plan. There’s a backup plan if I’m not here. But beyond that right now, as far as what we can tell you, everything keeps going. I miss a day? Everything keeps going, and the rest of the group picks up slack. That’s where we’re at right now. That’s about all I can talk on right now.” (On the possibility of facing a backup in Week 1 for currently injured quarterback Cam Newton)“I assume Cam will be able to play. That’s who we’re preparing for. We haven’t really gotten to that point. Right now, we’re doing a lot of work on them. But we’ll assume he’ll play until told otherwise.” (On the absence of linebacker Jonathan Casillas from the third preseason game)“First off, he’s not in a rough place with the team. I didn’t like some things that happened last week as far as the standard we have for our football team. He was punished for it. As he came back with our football team today, he was just like the rest of the guys. We don’t live in the past really. We’re just kind of going forward. he was out there playing hard today. He’s a good football player. No more than that.” (On the process of evaluating Incognito and bringing him in)“For every available guy, if there’s some interest, then you evaluate them with your current roster that you have. So yeah, there’s some interest. As far as the signing part, haven’t really gone that far. What I’ve done right now, I know he’s coming in, [we] had a great practice today out on our football field. Most of my thought is really on our team and Carolina and the progress we’re making right now. And then if there are other possible players that we should be looking at right now, yeah I’m going to do that. It’s down the list a little bit.” (On if he would bring in a player even if he might damage team chemistry)“Bringing him in is a different thing. If I had a football player on our football team that I thought would mess up our team chemistry, the answer is no. Simple as that. But I can’t assume that’s the case. And to me, as you go through the process, you look and you talk face-to-face with everybody that’s available. That’s what we’re doing. I think you guys know me well enough to know. You think I’m going to bring someone here that’s going to hurt what we have in our locker room? No. And every decision we make, it’s not just me and us, it’s everybody. When you look at our 53-man roster, everyone is on board with everyone on that roster, that final one.” (On the process of bringing in Incognito for a visit)“For me, I would like to talk to him myself. And if you know my history, I do believe in second chances. To me, nobody should have a death sentence. If you should, you’re probably in jail. And then from there, what does it hurt to talk to someone? So for me, as we go forward, I’m not holier than thou. I’m going to give everybody the benefit of the doubt until I have information that tells me otherwise. And that’s where we’re at right now. And a part of that process is Richie coming in.” (On if he would consider consulting team leaders about bringing in a potentially controversial player)“Before we bring in anyone that could possibly be considered controversial, yes, I would consult our team leaders. It’s a part of the process also. Everyone that’s here, they’ve been pretty much a part of the process. Everywhere I’ve been, the players have been a part of the process. It’s just not me making decisions by myself; I consult a lot of people. But a part of the process as you’re looking at anyone is a face-to-face.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
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